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Module 6 - Investment in Fisheries and Aquaculture

Updates were made to this Module on 12/01/2006.

Rapid population growth in developing countries, increased disposable income, particularly in Asia, and changing consumer preferences have dramatically increased global demands for aquatic foods. Proliferation of more efficient capture technologies, decades of government subsidies, increased market access even for remote fishing communities, and development programs aimed at increasing production from fragile open-access resources have led to widescale depletion of fish resources. Growing concern over the sustainability of wild fish stocks is exacerbated by further concerns over the impact on aquatic ecosystems of rapidly expanding aquaculture production. Long-term investments to ensure the sustainability of capture fisheries and aquaculture are needed at many political and societal levels—in planning, ecosystems-based resource management, the postharvest sector, human resources, and applied science and extension institutions, especially in collaborative business and organizational development. This overview summarizes the principles, status, trends, and future needs for investments in fisheries and aquaculture.

Excessive exploitation (figure 6.1) has resulted in stagnating global capture fishery production, a decline in production of many high-value species, and fishing for species at increasingly lower levels on the food chain. Declining rural coastal employment opportunities and few or ineffective barriers to entry into fisheries have resulted in ever-increasing numbers of small-scale fishers. In many developing countries, the economic impact of the crisis in fisheries is compounded by spreading poverty and the destruction of habitats crucial to the health of the aquatic ecosystems.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identified global fisheries as one of five global systems in critical condition, and while global marine catches have remained relatively stable at around 85 million tons, less than one-quarter of global marine fish stocks are considered moderately or under-exploited. Most experts agree that marine capture fisheries production has reached or is near its limits, so that little or no growth can be expected from this area of the sector under current management regimes to meet this demand. Catches from inland or freshwater fisheries remained at around 8.7 million tons in 2000-2002 but have suffered from the impact of pollution, water abstraction, dams, and overfishing. Despite the remarkable growth in aquaculture production, it is limited by the availability of sites, seeds, feeds, disease, water, and human resources.


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